Biography – Natalia Mihai
It was a Wednesday, that I came into the world. I know that with certainty on that specific December 29, in Bucharest, Romania; I looked it up. Google is wondrous in this regard.
It was very cold and my mom remembers she had severe heartburn, so when I made my way to the light that very first time and it was no surprise to her that I had a full head of hair.
My name was chosen, as it has Christmas meaning: Natalia.
Rue the day I was born so close to this precious holiday, throughout the years in-between finally growing up and I accept and enjoy, finally my birthday and my name.

I’m sure the very first thing my mom did was swaddle me in a white baby blanket, burrito style, and handed me over to my dad for inspection.
This baby scene was repeated several more times for my mom, and dad, as they have been blessed with 9 children. Mash Shallah.

But back to meee.
Shortly after, my mom brought me to the countryside of our homeland, and virtually left me with her parents, on the farm she grew up on. Sometimes it was with my older sister and older brother, more times it was just me.
I have immensely fond memories of my time here. The orchards were laden with fruit, the farm atmosphere complete with milking cows and scattered chickens. The vineyards choke full with grapes at harvest time, corn cooked on a fire outside in the courtyard, the smell of burning hay to be a reminder of this time for the rest of my life. Nostalgia to return me to the place I belonged, where I was cherished and loved, with this sweet scent from childhood.
Mamaya and my Tataya and I.
I had a complete run of the place and I was loved beyond question and reason, even though I was a bit of a brat. They catered to me and I loved the freedom that heaped upon me.
My fierce love of the outdoors steamed from my first role models, and their work ethic too.
I remember going to school there, I must have spent my first 4 or 5 years there.

As idyllic as this may sound, my parents and our growing family was under constant criticism from the state of the Communist party ruling the country.
We are evangelical Christians and the rest of the country was Catholic-Orthodox.
When you look at it from afar, both are classified as the Christian faith, but the situation was far from simple, and my parents struggled as their faith made it almost impossible alongside the Communist party to thrive with their growing family.
Bless my dad, though. He had a dream and a vision.
It took an entire year, of solid determination, and dodged efforts to receive papers from the immigration officer. The first time the man laughed. The second time he scoffed. The third time, he probably swore. But my dad returned, EVERY day for that year, and it was clear finally, he wanted to leave.
We left Bucharest, Romania under the cover of darkness, not telling family or friends, with two parents, five kids, three rugs and a bag of Valencia oranges, on a night train bound for Vienna, Austria and of course, subsequently, our forever futures.
Our lives in Canada was far from perfect and it took years to adapt and learn the language and nuances of a new country.
We settled in Windsor, Ontario, and I can’t think of a better place to grow up.
Freezing cold in winter, snow drifts high, frigid temperatures allowing for ice skating on ponds and icicles to be eaten after they formed from roofs; to beautiful spring were all flowers bloomed quite suddenly in April to give way to the balmy and hot weather of May. In summer, we gorged on watermelons and boiled corn, ran around barefoot till our feet were as black as the asphalt, and stayed out as the halogen lights started to come on.
We cooked eggs on the sidewalk of our streets, the humidity high, we walked through many neighbourhoods to seek relief at the local pools, while getting our .25 freezies.
As summer turned into fall, it always felt nostalgic, as I would remember what we did on the farm at this time of year, and how it differed from foreign city life.
The turn of the weather, even as I was younger, I felt as the leaves shed and the wind came and the short days and long nights returned, it was a return to hibernate once again. Not a fan, still of this season, though now I see it’s beauty.
We learned to speak English by watching untold thousands of hours in front of the television.
I was not a particularly good student, nor bad student. IF I had applied myself more perhaps. I liked all manners of sport and played them well, mostly because I tend to be rather competitive (still:)
It was in grade four, after building forts in our classroom, I finally found a hobby that would keep me safe and happy for the rest of my life.
My love of reading started here, and I remember reading in a beanbag in that fort and my classroom, and my teacher’s pleasure and then at her pleading for me to come out for other topics
I knew what I wanted to do for my life’s work even then.
Lay around, and read. And read.
I read; therefore I am.
It’s in this time period I decided I wanted to be an author someday.
Someone from our church used to drop off huge stacks of National Geographic magazines at our house.
They always featured exotic faraway, unfathomable places that people lived.
I would go through them, in awe.
This was the start of my longing for adventure and excitement.
I went through the usual growing pains of childhood and adolescence, finding a great outlet for my free spirit in the discipline of the army cadets regiment I signed up for.
It was perfect for new adventures, it was ideal for my competitive side, and it got me out of my house and away on weekends for excursions.
This building block may have lead to a lustrous career in the Canadian Armed Forces, but for the Han of God; there were other forces and life experiences to be had.
I went to college after being aimless for 2 years after high school.
The Print Journalist course spoke to me, and I wanted to travel the world and report it, much like my childhood heroine of Barbara Walters.
The course was so intense, of the 80 people or do that started out, only 12 of us graduated.
When I moved across the country, I got a job in my field, immediately.
It became clear in one month’s time, I had no idea how to write, and it was a dull experience, in that small town.
Shall we put a hotdog cart on First Avenue was one writing assignment.
Go investigate the peacock dispute between neighbours was another.
THOUGH HAD I stayed…..
I moved to North Vancouver and started applying at all the jobs on Lonsdale Street, as it’s a long long road.
I just needed a job as I had left Ontario with $500 to start my new life.
A restaurant hired me, with no experience, I became a: waitress.
That didn’t necessarily stop my dream of travelling, though.
I went on to work as a school photographer, then with that experience and the restaurant job providing a contact, went on to work as an onboard photographer for the Princess Cruise Line.
This. This is my literal dream job.
I travelled around South America, went to Cape Horn on a ship, have suntanned in Rio, Brasil, gone to a live carnival show, slowly drifted on the Amazon River, held a baby cayman in my hands, eaten a 20 ounce steak in Argentina, watched couples tango in the streets, to be almost killed crossing a street (crazy Latin drivers) to buying bootleg CDs on a street corner in St.Petersburg, Russia to cavorting with trolls in Norway.
The job didn’t pay much, but I lived this time of my life like there was no tomorrow.
I did one contract and came back to North Vancouver, though I’m certain, in a parallel life, I’m still dressing up as a pirate once a week on the sea days of an Atlantic voyage, to hoot and holler as my picture is taken with every.single.passenger. on board.

Natalia Mihai’s Facebooks posts

This collection of Natalia Mihai pilgrimage on the Sufi Trail gives you a good idea of how you can complete the Sufi Trail from Istanbul to Konya in just as little as three weeks. Mind you Natalia Mihai is a fit lady and apart from completing the Sufi Trail in no time, she made awesome pictures along the way. Here you can admire her 19 Facebook post and relive her adventure in the wintertime! You can also read her Great Bella Coma Adventure @Sufi Trails Travel tales: click here

Sufi Trail in the winter 

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